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City leaders hold investigative hearing on DOT after city gridlock issues cause congestion

Posted at 8:32 PM, Jul 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-19 07:40:25-04

City leaders held an investigative hearing on the Department of Transportation regarding the downtown traffic issues caused by traffic lights.

RELATED: DOT promises timing overhaul to relieve Baltimore gridlock

Traffic should be at least back to where it was in downtown Baltimore.

On Wednesday City Council wanted answers from the Department of Transportation.

Councilman Eric Costello who represents the 11th District said the lack of communication between DOT  and city leaders is unacceptable.

“It is unacceptable to not communicate problems of this magnitude to the city council,” Costello said. “I’m not going to speak on behalf of the administration you all can handle that on your own. That’s unacceptable and I genuinely it’s a lesson learned.”

DOT Director Michelle Pourciau outlined the long-term plan to resynchronize the system that caused the problem over the next two years.

In the meantime, they put the system back to where it was before the massive logjams started.

Pourciau said the problems started because of a change to traffic control box systems.

“Many of our traffic control boxes, those are the boxes that are the brain that tell the signals how to work, many of them are no longer on an interconnected telecommunications system.”

The systems weren't communicating and part of the two-week sample they used came from the July 4th week.

“They tested those changes during the week of the 4th of July when there were less vehicles down here which doesn’t make much sense but that’s what happened,” Costello said. “They had to revert those changes back to where we were at a month and a half ago which they’ve now done.”

Pourciau said on day two of the jam DOT tried to tweak the system, and then on day three they moved back to the baseline.

 “We went back to that because we really knew it was programed it was a timing pattern we could easily go back to with our technology,” Pourciau said. “As well going back to our manual boxes and making those changes effectively.

On Monday DOT deployed traffic officers to heavy volume spots and will start updating the electronic system next month.

The signal reconstruction will cost tens of millions of dollars and will get started next month in the central business area.

They expect the system to be updated by 2019.